AVOID BATS: Lake County Health Department

Keep away from Bats to Prevent Possible Spread of Rabies

Above, while this little brown bat, common in Illinois may be cute, he is also a potential carrier of rabies. The LCHD is giving tips about distancing yourself from bats. – Batguys.com

by Tina Johansson

While you and your family might be enjoying the nice summertime weather, you may not be aware there critters  lurking about.

Bats, both little and big brown ones common for Illinois and southern Wisconsin, become very active this time of year, seeking food and shelter to raise their young. And while the bats offer benefits — some can eat up to 600 insects an hour — they are also the only animals that have tested positive for rabies in Lake County over the past 15 years.

So while the Chinese may use bats as symbols of good fortune, there is nothing fortunate about coming in contact with these critters.

Bats can potentially enter holes as small as 3/4” in diameter. – Lake County Health Department

Because of the potential for the spread of rabies from bats to humans, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is urging residents to avoid contact with these animals.

In a typical year, the health department confirms rabies in three to four percent of all bats tested. Rabies is a fatal disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals.

The LCHD urges anyone in direct contact with a bat or notices a bat acting in an unusual manner, such as flying in daylight or lying on the ground or inside your home, to contact Lake County Animal Care & Control at (847) 377-4700.

If the bat is inside your home, close the door and keep people away from the room where the bat is. Trained animal wardens will remove the bat at no cost to the resident or refer the caller to the appropriate jurisdiction.

The health department may need to submit the bat for rabies testing if a household member has had contact with it. Therefore, it is important not to chase the bat away or discard it. Negative results of testing may eliminate the need for medical treatment of exposed people.

Parents should make sure children are aware that they should never touch a bat that is lying on the ground. The bat may not be dead, but ill, and it could bite.

Pet owners should be on the alert for bats near their homes, because pets that spend time outdoors can easily come in contact with bats and other wild animals. If a rabid animal bites a pet, the pet may, in turn, bite a person, transmitting rabies to that individual.  Rabies can be avoided in pets by vaccination, which is why a rabies vaccination is required by law for dogs and cats.

The LCHD can refer callers to bat exclusion companies and provide information on methods for excluding bats, by way of covering chimney’s and vents.

Covering chimneys and vents with half-inch hardware cloth screens, by installing draft guards beneath doors, and by sealing any other possible access routes, especially around screen doors, windows and plumbing, are good ways to exclude bats.

Bats can potentially enter holes as small as 3/4” in diameter. They do not chew insulation or otherwise make new holes. Their entries must then be covered or plugged.  For small crevices, silicone caulking may help.  If a large bat colony must be evicted from a wall or attic, careful observations should be made at dusk to find entry holes. The entry holes can be recognizable by stains around them or from droppings. The holes should be plugged after the bats emerge to feed, which they do during evening hours.

For more information visit: http://www.lakecountyil.gov/858/Rabies.

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